6 Strategies for Using Interactive Notebooks

Interactive notebooks are an amazing tool to use in the classroom. The graphic organizers can help students categorize and better understand content. Students also almost always enjoy making them!

The hands-on and creative aspect of interactive notebook pages lend themselves well to fostering student creativity and allowing students to demonstrate their understanding of important concepts. I started using them years ago and gradually made them more detailed and interactive as the years went by. 

I use a number of different resources in my classroom, but for years have experimented with different ways of using interactive notebook activities. At first, I would go through them together with students. However, I wanted a more student-centered classroom and sought ways to allow students more freedom to interpret our content. This led me to having students working on the pages either independently or together and then sharing what they created. 

However, I still see the...

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Five Ways to Make Awesome Stations Lessons!

Stations lessons are some of my favorite activities in my social studies classes. They're a great way to get kids up and moving around the room and that's more engaged in whatever topic recovering. Instead of just sitting at their seats at traditional way and taking in material, they're able to move around the room and learn.

They also work with any subject area and any unit you might be covering in history. They can be higher level, with students analyzing more advanced texts and sources at each station, or feature simple political cartoons, maps, or short excerpts at each station for lower level classrooms.

There’s no set template that you need to use for all stations lessons, but here are 5 ways to make your stations lesson plans rock!

1) To Time or Not to Time the Stations?

Stations can definitely vary in the structure. You might want to set a timer for a specific amount of time that students spend at each station. Or, it might work best if students are free to spend...

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6 Awesome Insta-Worthy Classroom Activities

As all teachers know, it is a long school year. Over the course of 180 school days, there are bound to be point where both you as a teacher, and the students, are burned out, bored, or just otherwise not excited about the curriculum.

It’s at points of the year like that where I try to infuse something different or fun to break our class out of that monotony and infuse some much needed life into the classroom. At first, I tried just taking the class outside or just some fun activities. However, I’ve since developed a variety of engaging ways to bring a little spice to whatever lesson we need to cover.

I was inspired by the rise of the “Insta-worthy” museum to bring these together and share with you here. Insta-worthy museums and exhibits cater to the visual appeal of Instagram and people wanting to document their experiences. In the same way, students are drawn to these same kinds of experiences and I’ve often seen kids snapping pictures when we do...

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7 Best World War 2 Activities for Secondary

Whether you teach World History or US History to middle school or high school students, one of your biggest units in the year is likely to be World War 2.  The scope and impact of the war was so massive that you need at least a few weeks to cover everything. That means you need to have a wide variety of high-quality, engaging lessons to use throughout the unit.

From the causes of WW2, to the people, main events and battles, the Holocaust, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the lasting impact of WW2 into the Cold War - it's a LOT to cover.

Here are some of my favorite lesson plans and activities to use with secondary students for teaching World War II:

1) Rise of Dictators Pop Up Notes

One of the first things students need to understand is the rise of dictatorships and fascism in the years before World War II. Hitler in Germany, Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union, Benito Mussolini in Italy, and militarists in Japan all took power during the 1930s.

To teach students...

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Absolute Monarchs PowerPoint, Activity, and Lesson Plan

The Age of Absolutism is a great unit in World History. My students love learning about the rulers who held absolute power in Europe and seeing pictures of their great palaces. 

In my World History curriculum, I have a great Absolute Monarchs activity to get things started. Students receive worksheets with Europe's most well-known absolute rulers to cut out: Louis XIV, Philip II, Henry VIII, & Peter the Great. 

They also receive an interactive map of Europe that will go in their notebooks. We'll then go through a PowerPoint. As they learn about each monarch, they cut out the figures and glue them on the map so they pop-up. So it becomes a literal "Rise of Absolute Monarchs" right in their notebooks! 

Students love the hands-on nature of this activity. It keeps them engaged during the PowerPoint and helps them better connect with each leader. 

Next, students analyze a primary and secondary source on King Louis XIV's daily routine as Versailles and...

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Ancient Rome Timeline Activity

A great way to review Ancient Rome in World History is with an interactive timeline that covers early Rome through the Republic, Roman Empire, and finally the Fall of Rome. 

I use this set of timeline activities in my World History classes. The variety is great for differentiation and making the lesson engaging for all the kids in my classroom. 

First, students are provided with the reading activity on Ancient Rome. This is condensed so that it focuses on the most essential information students need to know. The download includes a 2-page PDF version for printing and a 3-page Google Doc version (this one can also be printed but it includes some more pictures). 

Students also receive a printable timeline that goes across 2 pages in their notebooks. The timeline features boxes with headings on the major events they need to know along with guiding questions. Students sometimes draw an event or analyze the text for their response.

 Students can work independently,...

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Social Studies Interactive Notebooks

Among my favorite activities to do in all of my social studies classes are interactive notebook pages! I have used them successfully for years in Civics, World, and US History (you can download some free pages using the green download button to the right). 

History Alive was one of the early leaders in promoting the use of Interactive Notebooks in social studies classes. Now, they have grown to become a staple of many teachers' middle and high school classrooms. And for good reason - they work! 

Interactive Notebooks and journals are an amazing tool to help students engage with your history content and make better connections with the material. There's also lots of different ways they can be used based on your teaching style and your students' needs/ability levels. 

Some teachers like to use them as guided notes with their PowerPoints. Students cut and paste the pages into their journals and as you progress through the content in the presentation,...

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Social Studies Worksheets for Middle School

If you are a middle school social studies teacher, I have a TON of awesome worksheets and resources to use in your classroom! No matter if it's US History, World History, or Civics, our site is your "go-to" for engaging 21st Century activities! 

As I'm sure you know, middle school students need a variety of activities to keep them engaged. You can't rely on doing the same thing every day and expect students to stay interested. That's not to say that worksheets aren't effective, however. They are a great way to introduce primary sources, promote reading and writing, and gauge student understanding.

Our curricula include a variety of activities, so each day is a little different, even while you keep students on a routine to manage their behavior. For example, one day they might be going through a primary or secondary source in groups, the next day in mixed pairs, or individually.

All of our worksheets for our lessons are clear, with easy-to-follow directions and engaging...

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World History Patterns of Interaction Resources

Do you use the textbook World History Patterns of Interaction in your history classes? If so, I have a TON of amazing resources that work perfectly with it that are WAY more engaging and interactive that the ones you may have received with it (if you even received any supplemental resources!).

Patterns of Interaction is one of the most common and well-reviewed books for World History classes and I used it for years with my students. The worksheets and resources that come with it though are sorely lacking.

In my 10 years teaching World History, I created my own resources that engaged my students, had them critically analyze history, and provided them with a variety of activities so they were never bored with traditional textbook activities.

Now, you can use ALL of these amazing resources in your World History classes! I have organized all of them perfectly into lesson plans and units for the entire school year in World History. You can download some free activities here...

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Medieval Memes Project

This awesome lesson plan on Feudalism and life in Europe's Middle Ages is super engaging and fun while also getting your students into primary and secondary source readings! 

The download includes a detailed lesson plan with video links, reading, answer key, and editable Google Drive rubric!

In the lesson,  students work in pairs with a worksheet to move through 12 primary source analysis stations. Each station features an illuminated manuscript from the Middle Ages that depicts life during a month of the year. This helps them gain perspective on what life was like for serfs and vassals during the age of feudalism in Europe. 

Following this,  students create their own meme images using a Google template that illustrates life in medieval Europe. Instructions, examples and a rubric are all included for you! 

This is an awesome lesson for middle and high school students alike. It can also be downloaded on TpT as part of my Europe's Middle...

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